The Karolinska Institute in Stockholm has chosen Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman for the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19.
Katalin Kariko is a Hungarian-American Biochemist, and Drew Weissman is an American scientist.
According to the Karolinska Institute, "The discoveries by the two Nobel Laureates were critical for developing effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 during the pandemic that began in early 2020. Their findings have fundamentally changed our understanding of how mRNA interacts with our immune system. They contributed to the unprecedented rate of vaccine development during one of the greatest threats to human health in modern times."
mRNA stands for messenger RiboNucleic Acid. It is a single stranded molecule that carries the instructions to make proteins.
It plays a fundamental role in making human bodies function and is found in all living cells.
The Nobel Prize was founded in memory of Alfred Nobel, who, in his will, asked to set up a foundation to give prizes to those persons or institutions who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to "humankind". The Nobel Foundation was set up in 1900, and the first prize was given in 1901.
According to Alfred Noble's will, the winner of the Physiology or Medicine Prize is chosen by Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.
The first person to get the Physiology or Medicine prize was Emil Adolf von Behring of Germany in 1901.
The 2022 prize was awarded to Svante Pääbo of Sweden.
The prize will be conferred to the winners in Stockholm on 10 December. 10 December is the death anniversary of Alfred Nobel.
The word vaccine comes from the cowpox virus vaccinia. In Latin language, the word for cow is vacca.
English physician Edward Jenner is the inventor of vaccines. He observed that milkmaids who were infected with cowpox showed no symptoms of smallpox after being exposed to intentional variolation.
Variolation refers to the practice adopted by the people in the 15th century to prevent illness by intentionally exposing healthy people to smallpox. The name of the smallpox was 'la variole' at that time.
In May 1796, Edward Jenner inoculated 8-year-old James Phipps with matter collected from a cowpox sore on the hand of a milkmaid. James Phipps was the first person in the world to be vaccinated.
Vaccination is a simple, safe, and effective way of protecting a person against harmful diseases. It uses the human body's natural defence system to build resistance to specific infections caused by viruses or bacteria.
Vaccines are developed by using dead or weakened germs like viruses or bacteria. It is injected into humans either orally or through injections. This process is called inoculation.
When a person gets a vaccine, the human body's immune system responds in the following ways :
The vaccine prepares the human body for this eventuality in future. A human inoculated by one or more vaccine doses remains protected against a disease for years, decades or even a lifetime.